The 30th Anniversary of ICAO

and the confusion with the 75th anniversary of the first powered flight


Paraguay - 24/04/1979 History of aviation.

The successful flight of a powered, sustained and controlled flying machine by the Wright Brothers on 17 December 1903 was the beginning of the rapid evolution of flight and aviation; this date is generally considered Year 1 in the aviation history. Since then, aviation has evolved as one of the world’s largest and most important high-technology industries and represents an essential instrument for economic development and progress on a global scale.


World War II was a powerful catalyst for the technical development of the airplane; but there were still many obstacles, both political and technical, to overcome for air transport to support and benefit a world at peace. At Chicago, the year 1944 marked the beginning of a new era of international cooperation in the advancement of civil aviation with the signature of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, on 7 December. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) came into being on 4 April 1947 and has established international cooperation in the creation of a safe, secure and efficient global air transport system. ICAO acts as the international regulatory agency, which sets the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for the precise and detailed characteristics and performances of both airborne and ground equipment.


ICAO celebrated its 30th anniversary on 4 April 1977 and had asked the UPU to request its members to issue commemorative stamps in 1977 to mark this anniversary of the Organization. Further to that, three countries (Somalia, Syria and Uruguay) commemorated this event in 1977; others did not pick up this event early enough and released their stamps after that year.


The year 1978 marked the 75th anniversary of the first powered flight. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) invited countries to issue stamps to commemorate this event. In its News Release PIO 7/78, ICAO noted the following: “At the initiative of ICAO and the Universal Postal Union, the 75th Anniversary of Powered Flight will also be marked by commemorative stamps in many countries.”


Further to UPU’s request, one can notice different kinds of stamp issues:

1.  Several countries responded by issuing stamps featuring only this anniversary of the Wright Brothers feat.

2. Others noted simultaneously the 75th anniversary of the first powered flight and the 30th anniversary of ICAO.

3.  However, it is also interesting to note that some confusion was created in some countries about the anniversaries to celebrate. Belize, Paraguay and Uruguay inadvertently mixed the 75th anniversary of the triumph of the Wright Brothers, who made the first successful flight of a manned heavier-than-air vehicle on 17 December 1903, with ICAO which celebrated its 30th anniversary on 4 April 1977 and, even today, has not yet reached such a 75th milestone. Furthermore, it should be noted that the year of issuance of the sets of those countries did not correspond to an anniversary of the first flight (which should have been in 1978), nor to an anniversary celebrated by ICAO. Two examples, clearly referring to the 75th anniversary of ICAO, are provided herewith.


Belize - 30/07/1979 - 100th Anniversary of Sir Rowland Hill death

and 75th anniversary of the first powered flight.